Inclusive learning and teaching environments

Thursday 15 February 2018, 12.30pm to 2.00pm

Speaker: Claire Shanks, Disability Services
Location: Room P/T/007, Heslington west campus

Workshop Summary

Inclusive Teaching or Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a relatively new concept in higher education that means we have to change how we think about educational practice so that a greater diversity of students is included in higher education, including disabled students.

Moving towards UDL means challenging the status quo of the traditionally advantaged learner and a pedagogy based almost entirely on text based learning. Inclusive learning and teaching recognises all students’ entitlement to a learning experience that respects diversity, enables participation, removes barriers and anticipates and considers a variety of learning needs and preferences.

This workshop is designed using an appreciative enquiry approach (sometimes known as a World Café). It will provide an opportunity for all those present to share opinions and good practice in terms of inclusive learning and teaching as well as how to create an engaging and inclusive environment to enable effective learning. Inclusive teaching and learning practice is important in meeting our legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

It is our intention to make the event fun and interactive. It will provide you with an opportunity to network with colleagues and perhaps learn from other people’s experiences and good practice. The outcomes of this event will be central to the University’s aims and aspirations of creating an inclusive learning environment whilst complementing the York

Workshop Report

by session chair, Sally Quinn, Psychology

This forum event was based on a World-cafe style approach where for the majority of the session, we discussed probing questions about inclusive learning and teaching, noting down a summary of our discussions onto large sheets of paper before sharing with the rest of the group. Questions we discussed included ‘What is inclusive learning and what does it mean to you?’; ‘What practically should we be doing to create an inclusive teaching and learning environment?’; and ‘What baseline standards should we apply and what might it look like?’

Many groups saw inclusive learning as a journey for both staff and students, and pointed out the importance of not only accommodating for uniqueness in a diverse student population but to anticipate barriers to learning so they can be removed before students begin their ‘journey’. Claire highlighted the anticipatory approach as something that is superior to making adjustments (i.e. prevention being better than the cure). We discussed that although this is the ‘gold standard’ it is often difficult to anticipate some barriers to learning, particularly for barriers that might not be experienced often by staff. However, we all acknowledged that it is important for staff to be open to changing teaching materials and environments. Some ideas for how we can create an inclusive environment ranged from consideration of alternative assessment formats to the use of recordings of teaching sessions. Suggestions for baseline standards included appropriate training and sharing good practice events.

Claire then informed everyone of the plans afoot at the UoY regarding inclusive teaching and learning. The University has an Inclusive Teaching, Learning and Assessment Policy statement and an Equality, Diversion and Inclusion Strategy (2017-2022) and is in the process of developing an Inclusivity Strategy Group. This group will be responsible for developing standards for inclusive practice, and creating a guidance document on creating inclusive teaching environments. It will work initially with pathfinder departments with a view to making further iterations of the policy and guidelines in Summer 2019.

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